Black English

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Black English

Black English


Seminer1 Judy Yoneoka

I want to research to Black English. I compare African American Black Vernacular English (AABE) with Standard American English (SAE). I think that these compare and contrast the two in terms of pronunciation and grammar. And I want to look into the Ebonics debate.
[1] Introduction

It had been thought for a long time that the origin of black language was local English dialects, but that changed through research carried out after the 1960’s. It was insisted that Black English originated from other dialects and that African American language was from Creole English, based on Pidgin English spoken by slaves. It is now clear that the Creole language came from the African West Coast, and not from England.

It was thought that Black English was caused by the low education of slave’s time. In fact, however, Black English has its own grammatical system and on culture side, a lot of changes arose to society due to African slaves who brought different system. Many Black people’s customs certainly are left in today’s American society, with great influences. White people and Black people were influenced each other for a long time, but much of Black people’s language and culture are still different.

This research paper will study Black English, especially African-American Vernacular English grammar and pronunciation, why and how is it different from Standard English? And we will compare African American Vernacular English with American Standard English. How is it different? At the last, I’m going to explain for Black discrimination named “Ebonics”. It seems that we want to know about Black English by this research!

[2] Grammar and Structure ~ BE vs. SAE~

Many of the verb forms used in Standard American English are different or completely missing from Black English. Black English verbs seem to accent aspect rather than tense. That is not the case in other dialects of Standard American English. Black English takes this feature perhaps from the original African languages.

< Verbs >

For examples

  1. Linking verb (copula) missing

The Standard American English sentence He is going can be in Black English heard He goin’.

  1. Third person singular

In SAE verb agrees with the subject: He lives in New York, but in BE the same meaning is passed on with He live in New York.

  1. Past marker

The sentence is Yesterday he walked home according to the grammar rules of SAE. In BE the sentence can be Yesterday he walk home.

  1. Adding –ed to make a past tense verb

Continuing with the past forms, in SAE I told him is what you almost always expect to hear. But in BE I telled him is not unusual.

  1. Different past tense forms

The following is four basic past forms of BE.

She is singing.



She just started to sing.

She do sing.

She just finished singing.

She did sing.

She sang recently.

She done sing.

She sang a long time ago.

She been sung.

It is free for speakers to express the tense, but it is necessary to make sure whether their actions are continuous or momentary.

6. Use of be

In SAE, He is here all the time. In BE all the time is expressed by He be here. The usage of be here means general or repeated action or habitual action.

7. Future form

In BE, the standard form I will go home is replaced by I’ *ma go home.

8. Use of do

In SAE No, he isn’t is the correct way express contradictions. But in BE the same sentence is No, he don’t.

9. Remove all form of the verb to be

In SAE, He is to be sick today. But in BE, He sick today.

< Others >

1. Plural marker

The SAE sentence I have five cents turn into I *got five cent in BE.

2. Addition of –s to a plural word

In BE –s can be added to form a plural word, but in an already plural word this lead to double plurals: SAE feet, BE feets.

3. Double negative/ Triple negative

In SAE is I don’t have any, and the BE is I don’t got none.

In addition to the double negative, in SAE I never had a job, in BE *Ain’t never got no job* nohow. According to BE grammatical rules, when we make negative sentence, we have to exchange all words into negative word.

4.. Indefinite article

SAE: I want an apple, BE: I want a apple.

5. Pronoun form

In SAE We have to do it is quite right, but BE uses an inflectional form from the word “we”: Us *got to do it.

6. Possessive pronoun

In SAE his book, but in BE the possessive pronoun is he book.

7. Preposition

SAE He is over at john’s house, but BE He over to John house or SAE He teaches at high school, BE He teach high school.

8. Subject expression

Also the subject is expressed differently in BE. In SAE: John moved, in BE: John, he move. In BE, this like sentence is repeat noun subjects with a pronoun. And use the same verb form for all subjects.

[3] Pronunciation

  1. The elimination of consonants /b/, /d/, /g/, /k/, /p/, /t/

“hard” and “heart” are same pronounce. “Just” → “Jus”

  1. Use few long vowels or diphthongs

“right” → “rat” or “raht”, “time” → “tahm”

  1. Omit the /r/ sound

“More” → “Mo”, “father” → “fatha”

  1. Replace /z/ for /s/ at the end of a word

“wheels” → “wheelz”, “apples” → “applez”

  1. /th/ is pronounced as a /f/ at the end of word and /d/ when at the beginning of a word, /d/ or /v/ when the middle of a word

this”, “that”, “the” etc. are pronounced “dis”, “dat”, “da”.

“brother” etc. are pronounced “broder” or “brover”.

“dough” and “door” are same pronunciation.
[4] What is Ebonics?

I did not know this word that “Ebonics”. The term “Ebonics” is a combination of “ebony” and “phonics”, the center of pronunciation in language education. And In fact, it means “Black English” or “Black pronunciation”. Why had this word make the talk in 1997, recently, in spite of this word had exist since 1970’s?

December 18th, 1996, it was decided to use Ebonics as the second language in California Oakland Board education. This new language means to teaching different from English at American Schools. So, why had this decision in California Oakland? In the Oakland Board of Education said “ We admitted Ebonics that the second language, because we want to try to make correct English understood for Black students by they converse with Ebonics”. And this decision’s background has following things:
・53 % of the Afro-American students are entered school

At Oakland area has 51,706 schools

・64% of they were repeat the same year

・67% of they were cut school

・19% of they in 12 grades were not graduate it

・80% of they were suspension from school

In short, Ebonics from these backgrounds, this is attempted to reform by their language used, they have Standard English spoken, and for students has very low education level.

But this decision’s fundamental reason is for the money. In 1960’s, American government had decided to huge money invest in educational expenses because public school students were getting low marks in examination. So, the decision that the second language was only for gets huge money.

Ebonics is not A.A spoken language in American, what is call; it was becoming “ daily language”, young people used in conversation. I’m thinking from these things, Oakland decision had strange. Because it is likely to taught for English dialects.
[5] Conclusion

We found it this research paper, Black English had not been came from the laziness and low-level education of black people. In addition, the Black English, exist original forms. It is certainly know that Black English verbs structure is far and away different of the Standard American English. And, if something “time” sign expressed into before and behind the sentence or paragraph, it could have completed in Black English grammar.

We can say that one thing is about the slang. White people used Black English by the aim of tease the Black people without being found of slave’s slang, but their slang had a great effect on the Modern American English. Moreover, this language has much to do with these historical and cultural backgrounds.
<@TAK英語情報局> Find Date: Oct 1, 2001

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